Pat Slattery Leinster Regional Volunteer and Olive O Keefe Leinster Regional Youth Winner.jpg

Special Olympics Ireland Volunteer Awards 2024

Since 2021, Special Olympics volunteers have been acknowledging the efforts of other volunteers through Special Olympics Ireland Volunteer Awards. The awards provide the opportunity for volunteers to recognise their peers for the dedication, energy, enthusiasm and “can do” approach they bring to Special Olympics in their capacity as volunteers. 2024 is the fourth year of the awards, a celebration of which will be held in Dublin in mid-September.

Nominations are open from the 15th of May to the 10th of June 2024.  Volunteer Week takes place in Northern Ireland in the first week of June and on the rest of the island during the last week of May so what better time to give other volunteers a lift by nominating them for an award.  Please don’t leave it to somebody else. Take the initiative and nominate a volunteer before June 10th. Your kind gesture could mean so much to somebody.  This year we have 5 categories in which you can nominate peers.


Have a look at highlights from Special Olympics Volunteer Awards 2023:

We are inviting nominations for volunteers under the following categories:

Ireland Winter Games 2024 Volunteer Award

2024 has been a wonderful sporting year for Special Olympics.  One of the highlights of this year has been The Ireland Winter Games in March held in Craigavon. Such large events like these just can’t happen without volunteers who give up so much of their time and take on a lot of responsibility in advance of and during such Games. Almost 250 volunteers participated in IWGs 2024 either as part of the Delegation, at event venues or at accommodation venues. This award is to acknowledge volunteers who stood out in their contribution to this event.

Click here to nominate under this category

Leader of Volunteers

As a large volunteer-led organisation, leadership is both needed and expected of volunteers to move the organisation forward.  Leadership can be demonstrated in lots of different ways and in various contexts from making big decisions, having a positive influence on other volunteers, problem solving, future proofing, to just making things happen.  We often think that a volunteer must be in a formal leadership role to lead but leadership isn’t just confined to such positions.  This Leader of Volunteers award recognises the actions of those volunteers who bring other volunteers with them.  That can be in any context, e.g., club, event, committee, fundraising.  It aims to recognise leadership behaviours whether in a formal leadership role or whether leadership is demonstrated informally.

Click here to nominate under this category

Spirit of Special Olympics Award

Volunteers are at the heart of the Special Olympics family. The nominees in this category are the essence of what drives Special Olympics forward as they contribute on a number of levels to the organisation and its athletes. This award seeks to recognise those volunteers that inspire others thereby creating an environment where sports and volunteering can thrive. 

Click here to nominate under this category

Positive Influence (Volunteer) Award

We all know that one person who helped us along the way – taking time to encourage us, give us confidence and nurture our talents.  Maybe for you it was a teacher, a manager or a grandparent. This award recognises the efforts of other volunteers who nurture the experience of one or two groups of people within Special Olympics: youth volunteers and/or athletes. Ideally this volunteer is one who nurtures and champions youth volunteers; actively recruits, supports, promotes and encourages youth volunteers in their volunteering context.


It could be a volunteer who has had an amazing impact on an athlete, bringing them along and encouraging their sports skills or personal development.

Click here to nominate under this category

Most Innovative Club Award

Following the Covid pandemic, all volunteer-involving organisations have experienced a lot of volunteer retirements and challenges engaging new volunteers. Our society continually asks more of us in all aspects of our lives. In the busyness of life, Special Olympics clubs are as important now in communities as they have ever been but nothing can ever just stay the same.  This award recognises the clubs that stand out from others in how they have embraced change and innovation to enhance their club and the experience of athletes and volunteers.

Click here to nominate under this category

The nomination form explained:

Each category requires answers to 3 questions specific to what the category is aimed to recognise

Remember when filling in your nomination, the judges are independent and won’t know your nominee like you do so please be specific about your reasons for nominating. The category descriptors and the specific questions will guide you.

You will also be asked for some details of the volunteer you are nominating – this is so we can identify them

Terms & Conditions

Special Olympics Ireland Volunteer Awards were created to acknowledge the generosity, kindness and selflessness of the volunteers which are at the core of the Special Olympics family. The initiative seeks to recognise volunteers for the heroes they are across several volunteer contexts.  

The organisers

The organisers of the awards are Special Olympics Ireland CHY 7556 and as the organisers we reserve the right to modify or vary the terms and conditions at any time. 

The nominator & nominee 

The person nominating the volunteer is bound by the terms and conditions of the awards and by making or accepting a nomination, you are automatically bound by these terms and conditions. 

-Only Special Olympics volunteers are eligible for nomination in any category. 

-All entrants (both nominators and nominees) understand and agree the organisers and related individuals or entities as well as any sponsors shall not be liable for losses or injuries of any kind resulting from participation in the Awards. 

-Nominees under the age of 18 must have parental consent to participate.

-Anyone can nominate a volunteer once the volunteer is known to that person and they can credibly account for their volunteer efforts. 

-Nominees will be notified of who nominated them for the award, therefore the nominator gives Special Olympics Ireland the permission to pass on those details to the nominee. 

-Nominees may be nominated under a number of categories. A nomination form must be submitted for each category.

-A volunteer may be nominated on a few occasions by different nominators. Each nomination will be treated independently. 

-The opening date for nominations is May 15th 2024 and the closing date is 5pm on June 10th 2024. Any entries received before or after this time will be null and void. 

-The information on the official nomination form is the only material that will be considered so no other files should be sent. 

-Nominations can only be submitted through the official SOI online nomination form.

-The judging panel may contact the nominator for further clarification on the volunteer and the award and the nominator agrees to be contacted by the judge upon entry of their contact details on the nomination form.

-Petitioning on behalf of a volunteer to any member of the judging panel will mean automatic exclusion from the awards.

-All nominees will be contacted to acknowledge that they were nominated and they will be sent an acknowledgment email from SOI. 

-The decision of the judges is final. 

-SOI in conjunction with the judging panel reserves the right to create a short list of nominations.

-The judging panel in conjunction with SOI reserves the right to withdraw a nomination if adequate information is not available, if the entry is deemed inappropriate and all entries are subject to verification with the relevant SOI group.

-Nominees give permission for SOI and their partners to use the information and content provided for the promotion and publicity purposes. This includes but is not limited to the use of images and video footage of the awards ceremony.

-The nominee understands and agrees that the organisers may request more information from them for such purposes, and may request that they take part in a publicity photo-call and media interviews. 

-The personal information captured will be processed in line with GDPR legislation. The policies regarding this are available upon request from